Importance of experiencing a touch (tactile) sensation and organising those stimuli meaningfully as well as appropriately is the key to function optimally for kids. If not organised properly, it may hamper functioning or participation of a child with sensory processing disorders in few or more activities of daily living like brushing, bathing, wearing clothes, grooming etc. It may manifest in many ways like refraining from getting hair combed, also getting a hair or nail cut etc.
Next important sensation is proprioception, i.e., sense of body. The receptors from our muscles and joints give information to our brain regarding the whereabouts of our body parts. Just to elaborate we always know where our hand is laying while sitting on a chair, whether it is on our lap or on the arm rest. This information of body awareness unknowingly/without being consciously addressing to the joint is called the body sense or proprioception.
Now the obvious question that pops into mind is its necessity. A child starts experiencing or developing this sensation in womb only. As the child develops it keeps exploring its body parts in different directions and ways. Proprioception helps one to be at ease with its body parts with respect to space. Children who lags this compensates excessively with vision. Not being in harmony with its joint position can make a child appear fussy. A child may continue to bang with the objects that come in the way because of poor joint awareness.
If not organised properly a child may not be able to achieve developmental milestones well in time resulting in a delay in the overall growth of the child. Often these children adopt bad postures (slump), poor endurance, therefore, get tired easily.
Since the child is not able to get a sense of the body parts, one puts excessive pressure to be able to register body parts in mind. A child may even seek this sensation in ways that may result in some behaviour that appear weird. At times child may seek pressure only at some areas not the entire body like around oral area, hands or lower extremity. Accordingly a child will develop a strategy to quench the needs. Like in case it is required in the oral area a child may indulge in excessive kissing or chewing things or sucking hard on food items, pencil, toys. Scenario gets reversed in case a child aversive to the proprioceptive inputs. Elaborating the behaviour on same lines, think of a child avoiding input around oral inputs may not chew properly or gulp it quickly.
It can create harrowing result as a child may indulge in behaviour that may hurt. In children seeking proprioception may indulge in self destructive behaviour like banging their heads or hands on wall or even bruising badly to gain the said sensation. Excessive jumping, walking on toes also increase susceptibility of fall.
Understanding proprioception seeking behaviour, therefore, becomes unavoidable so is avoiding tendency as both hampers the progress of the child.
Here the role of an occupational therapist comes into play. A session with the therapist can give an insight to the reason behind appalling behaviour of the child and a solution can thus be sought.
Proprioception works in close coordination with the tactile and vestibular sensation. Learn about vestibular sensation in our next post at www.prowellnessindia.com